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The School of Whoredom (Hesperus Classics) Paperback – Unabridged, 1 May 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Hesperus Press Ltd; Unabridged edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843910365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843910367
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 0.9 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'At last, a work of real pornography. The word, as people tend to forget, means 'the writing of prostitutes' that is, advertisements for services available, written to a highly variable standard of sophistication. This, the dialogue between Nanna and her 14-year-old daughter, Pippa, on the tricks of the trade, is highly sophisticated, being as much a satire as it is a sex manual. But it can be read straight, and that in itself is quite remarkable. ' --The Guardian

'Dating from the 16th century, it has survived time and morality to endure as a happy hooker s handbook.' --The Times

'...a sophisticated satire on the morals of men and women. It is full of jokes, robust humour at the expense of courtiers, clerics, men, women, and different ethnicities of the sixteenth century. It has some advice to a daughter that works just fine in modern and less meretricious settings.' --The Times Acadiana

From the Publisher

First unabridged translation in English of this Italian masterpiece by the originator of European pornographic writing

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "scribeoflight" on 14 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
Published by the estimable Hesperus Press, 'The School of Whoredom' is an unusual but very entertaining little book. Taking the form of a dialogue between a shrewd, experienced mother and her eager, naïve daughter, Aretino's short, satirical piece is one of those unexpected literary gems just as successful now, in the 21st century, as it was when first written, over four hundred years ago. The mother is an experienced courtesan and her daughter is eager to follow in her footsteps; the advice offered by Nanna to Pippa is in turns witty and frank, bawdy and practical. It is ultimately a very commercial "sermon", because a good prostitute - as Nanna repeatedly insists - is one who can make a lot of money again and again. But is not dull or dry: Nanna is a wickedly good teller of rollicking stories (akin, in that sense, to Chaucer's Wife of Bath). This is a glorious and very satisfying read, well worth a little bit of your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 15 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Pietro Aretino, more famous for his obscene sonnets accompanying the engravings of Raimondi which got him exiled from Rome in 1527, was a prolific writer. Also called, somewhat erroneously, the father of pornography (which didn't really exist as a separate category then) he wrote a series of Dialogues set over six days, of which this is one, the fourth day.

Here Nanna, a seasoned prostitute, reveals the secrets of the profession to her eager daughter Pippa. And, in doing so, exposes the morals, hypocrisies and habits of sixteenth century men, from traders to members of the Papal court.

This is a funny and bawdy read which doesn't hold back at all, but I wonder if someone just looking for a straight 'dirty' read might be disappointed? Aretino deliberately satirises the classical dialogue form most usually associated with Plato, and also uses erotic discourse to expose and reveal power and corruption at the highest levels of society, following the satiric traditions of Juvenal, Martial and, arguably, Ovid.

This is the only cheap and easily-available edition of even part of Aretino but I can't help wondering why this part was selected out of context. The translation is very modern which I didn't really like (hence the star rating) so that Nanna, for example, uses highly-paid football players as an example, which destroyed the atmosphere for me.

For the rest of the Dialogues, including the first three days you'll probably have to borrow the text from the library: Aretino's Dialogues (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library) and, personally, I far prefer Rosenthal's translation.
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By Room for a View VINE VOICE on 5 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Another 100 page literary nugget from Hesperus Press. This time an extract from Aretino's "Dialogue" accompanied by a useful introduction by Rosa Maria Falvo which helps place Aretino within a broader socio-political and literary context. I found this Renaissance dialogue a playful and earthy account of the world's oldest profession. Nana is the star, Pippa (her highly enthusiastic daughter), a supporting role, acting as a convenient receptacle for Nana's instruction, recollections, anecdotes and warnings. I found a great deal of humour in this conversation and I wonder to what extent Aretino's knowledge of the trade influenced his knowledge of the behaviour of men. And all types of men are included in this account: aristocracy, Neapolitans, merchants, Jews, army officers and the clergy. This last group treated with particular scorn by Nana who describes them as "rabble belonging to the league of reverends and right reverends" and reveals their particular preferences!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Learning More than Being a Whore 23 Sep 2003
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you want to read a work that is literally pornography, you are in luck. Remember, pornography literally, etymologically, is "whore writing", or writing about or by prostitutes. Of course we have grown away from this literal standard, but _The School of Whoredom_ (Hesperus Press) by Pietro Aretino meets it. It consists of a classic dialogue (from the time when dialogues where the choice way of explaining ideas in astronomy and philosophy) between a whore and her daughter who will become a whore. This makes it sound quite a bit coarser than it really is. While the book is not without frankness and the translator has not spared four-letter words, it is a sophisticated satire on the morals of men and women. It is full of jokes, robust humor at the expense of courtiers, clerics, men, women, and different ethnicities of the sixteenth century. It has some advice to a daughter that works just fine in modern and less meretricious settings.
_The School of Whoredom_ (written around 1535) is not a work like Aretino's famous _I Modi_, called the world's first "stroke book". While it treats of the erotic endeavors of men and women, it could hardly be called an erotic work itself. Basically, it is instruction more on how to be a courtesan than how effectively to engage in coitus. As such, it is more about manipulation of the emotions of men than of their anatomy, and might be read as a prescient call to feminist solidarity. Whoring, mother Nanna reminds daughter Pippa, isn't easy: "So, you see, becoming a whore is no career for fools, well I know it..." She also advises, "You'd need more skills than a doctor to be a courtesan." There is plenty of other advice, some proverbial. "Never mock at the truth and never do harm with a joke." "Don't take pleasure in upsetting friendships by reporting gossip; avoid scandals; and whenever you can make peace do so." By such means, Pippa is to ensure her position of relative esteem in society, but always she is to be mindful of the bottom line: "... a courtesan whose heart pounds for anything other than her purse is like a greedy, drunken tavern-keeper..." who eats his own fare instead of selling it.
While the liveliest parts of the book are the descriptions of ruses for parting punters from their extra cash, there are many pictures here of a vibrant society, one which valued good food and entertainment. Aretino's work shows they also liked satire. There is much here to expose those in power, and plenty that makes fun of the sexual peccadilloes from cardinals to monks and nuns. Nanna discusses the merits (or lack thereof) between Frenchmen, Spaniards, Romans, Florentines, and Germans, giving pride of place to the Venetians ("If I said everything they deserve to have said about them, people would tell me: 'Love has blinded you.'"). Nanna has triumphed over men for years, and is delighted with Pippa's prospects: "My heart swells so much with pride at seeing you at home in these affairs that I'm in raptures." Careful reading, though, almost five centuries later, shows she has instructed about far more than the ways of whoredom.
The primary lessons are around flattery and stroking the male ego 16 Oct 2014
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Titian painted a wonderful portrait of Pietro Aretino, a brilliant bisexual satirist, blackmailer, political operative, poet, pornographic writer, and essayist, The School of Whoredom is written in the style of a Platonic dialogue between an experience prostitute Nanna and her naive young daughter Pippa. However, the book is really not pornography at all but rather a realistic description of how flattery and deception on the part of a courtesan may bring about financial success. Sexual love making technique is rarely discussed, but all the ways a courtesan may influence, persuade, and seek gifts from men of wealth, learning, and position. Flattery of the male ego is the most prominent technique employed by a successful courtesan and the book has many examples of how this might be accomplished. I found the book to be clever but a bit too long since the same techniques for flattery are repeatedly discussed. The foreword is very informative and puts the book in perspective.
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